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Go from Casual to Chic with Vintage Costume Jewelry

By Barbara Schwartz October 12, 2016 Beauty

If you’re like me, you have a uniform – a particular type of outfit – that you wear most days.

Yours might be a white shirt and trousers, a wrap dress, or a skirt and jacket. Mine is a tee-shirt and jeans, topped with a blazer. These pieces are wardrobe staples you probably have in your closet.

What makes this uniform both versatile and suitable for a myriad of occasions is the way I accessorize it. For me, the most important type of accessory is vintage costume jewelry.

Why Vintage Costume Jewelry?

Vintage costume jewelry adds variety to your wardrobe and refreshes your existing clothing inventory. Perennial favorites look new again with unique and striking vintage jewels. Colorful pieces are a way to add colors you may not typically wear, especially if you want to try out a current trend.

These unique jewels have stood the test of time – they allow you to reuse/recycle while enjoying the high quality of their design and construction. Vintage costume jewelry allows you to express your distinctive, personal style in a way that will get you noticed – and probably start a conversation!

How to Wear Vintage Jewels

Here are six examples of how to elevate a jeans, tee-shirt, and blazer ensemble from ordinary to extraordinary. While the outfit shown here is fairly classic (tailored), your pieces might be a different style. That’s okay. The same principles will apply.

Add a Necklace

Here are two Art Deco necklaces that will add colorful contrast to this uniform. They will become the focal point of this and virtually any neutral outfit. The first is a strand of beads that you would wear nestled in the neckline of your tee shirt. The second is a long strand of beads, whose color pops against white.

If your neck is slim, you could even wear it doubled. For more color, add a handbag or shoes in the same hue as the beads. If you wear earrings, go with clear crystal beads instead of trying to match the beads.

Wear Statement Earrings

Whether you have pierced ears or you wear clip-backs, earrings frame your face and make it shine. These 1940s clip-backs on the left in warm sterling silver have clusters of aquamarine glass stones that face each other and were designed by Pennino.

On the right are German Art Deco earrings for pierced ears, with faux carnelian stones in a yummy shade of reddish-orange. Add a scarf and/or bracelet in the stone color of the jewel you chose, or repeat that color in your shoes or handbag.

Wear a Brooch

Once a vital fashion accessory, brooches went out of style for a long time. The good news is that they’re a 2016 fashion trend. Even if you don’t follow trends, don’t overlook this essential and versatile jewelry accessory. A blazer is the perfect backdrop for a striking brooch – on the lapel, if your jacket has one, or on the shoulder.

The graceful 1940s piece on the left by Coro is rose-gold-plated sterling silver with citrine glass stones. The faux emerald and diamond sunburst design from the 1950s, on the right, is by Hattie Carnegie. You could add subtle stud earrings (gold or citrine for the Coro piece; faux or real diamonds for the Carnegie).

So, if you’ve been wondering how to transform a casual outfit into a chic new look, try some vintage costume jewelry.

What’s your uniform? Do you have a favorite jewelry accessory? Do you wear vintage costume jewelry? If not yet, what do you plan to try? Please join the conversation below to share your style story.

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The Author

Barbara Schwartz is a costume jewelry historian and the proprietor of TruFaux Jewels, a boutique of exquisite costume jewels from the 1920s-1950s. Through her blog, social media, and private coaching sessions, she helps women create their unique, personal styles by accessorizing contemporary fashion with vintage costume jewelry.

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